Graduation is around the corner and before you know it you’ll be packing your things, saying goodbyes, and heading full speed into the world of 401ks, loan repayment, and all things adult. (There’s a whole bunch of fun stuff tucked in there too, I promise!)
I vividly remember this time last year sitting on my bedroom floor thinking, “What the heck am I going to do?” I had no job, no real job prospects, didn’t know where I wanted to live, and the scariest part was – I wasn’t scared. Weird, right? You’d think not having a plan whatsoever might freak the average 22-year-old out…not me, and here’s why.
For once in my life, I didn’t need to know. There was no signing up for classes, no annual registration, no, “returning to campus” week. I didn’t have homework to finish nor teachers breathing down my neck. My parents weren’t in charge any longer and I was in the driver’s seat of my expectations and my life. No plan at all meant no limitations at all. And no limitations meant endless opportunities.
It. Was. Awesome.
That fleeting moment between growing up and grown up (although let’s face it, we’ll never be truly grown), is what I like to call the sweet spot. It’s where the really good stuff happens. The moments that change your life forever. The little decisions that leave massive impacts on your future. The people, places, and things that make everything worth it.
If you’re a graduating senior, you’re in the sweet spot right this moment. Here are my tips to help you squeeze out every last drop before the moment is over.
1. Say yes. To everything. To late nights out with friends even when you have an early morning final. To road tripping across the country after graduation even if it means postponing your start date. To that job offer that takes you to a city and state you’ve never set foot in before. To adventure, to change, to fear.
2. Say no. To friends who no longer support you, help you grow, or align with your vision. To job offers that make you cringe or think, “That would be OK. Not great, But OK.” To comfort. To anyone and anything that doesn’t absolutely light your fire ablaze.
3. Don’t mass send your resume. I know the feeling – you’re graduating so you need a job, and you need a job soon. What’s the natural thing to do? Send your resume to as many companies as possible and pray one of them accepts you. Been there, done that. Be picky! This is your next stage of life we’re talking about! Only send your resume to positions and companies you’d be thrilled to fill/work for. Tell the universe where you’ll be and the right thing will find you.
4. Finish strong, but don’t stress. You probably have a few more tests and projects due before the year wraps up, and if you’re anything like me you want to finish on a high note. Let me let you in on a little secret – no one really cares THAT MUCH about your grades, your last test score, or how your last group project goes. Yes, grades matter. But they’re not going to make or break your chances in the “real world.”
5. Make connections. Start talking to people – all sorts of people. Grab coffee with your professors, ask for contacts in your desired field, grab coffee with a local entrepreneur. Just get your name out there! You never know whom you’ll meet, but without putting yourself out there you’ll be missing out on lots of opportunities.
6. Always be willing to change paths. So you’ve accepted a job offer but you’ve recently stumbled across a company that looks much more interesting? GO FOR IT. Apply! You’ve got nothing to lose and you owe nobody anything. Or maybe you planned on sticking around but now you’re itching to move. Grab your suitcase and go! Now is the time. The funny thing about plans is they provide us a false sense of control and I hate to break it to you, but plans rarely go as planned, so when the universe offers up a different route – take it.
7. Travel. Get your butt moving and go see the world. Even if it’s just for a week. Even if it’s just the town over. You’ve been going to school in the same place for 4 years – go see what else is out there.
8. There’s no rush. To get to the top. To get married. To start a family. To figure it out.
9. Life isn’t a competition. Go at your own pace. Follow your own dreams. Carve your own path. Focus on you and yours, not them and theirs.
10. Pause and enjoy. Take a few minutes each day to sit back and enjoy this little moment in life. Say thank you to everyone that’s impacted you. Watch the sunset. Go for a long walk without your phone. Write it all down. Soak it all up.
Congratulations! You’ve made it this far and there’s so much more in store. Life on the other side might seem scary, boring, and stressful as heck, but it’s also exciting, fulfilling, and dripping with opportunity. Now go get it!